From: Asghar Ali
Subject: MINGLING OF TWO OCEANS- HINDUISM AND ISLAM
Asghar Ali, Engineer
Dara Shikoh has made seminal contribution to the composite culture of India. He was appointed heir apparent by Shah Jahan and had he become emperor of India it would have certainly made much difference to religio-cultural scene in India. Dara Shikoh had learnt Sanskrit and studied the Hindu scripture in original. He translated Upanishads into Persian directly from Sanskrit and called it Sirr-e-Akbar (The Great Mystery). And in introduction to this work he says that one finds in Upanishads the concept of tawhid (the doctrine of Unity of God, the most fundamental doctrine of Islam) after the Qur'an and perhaps the Qur'an refers to Upanishad when it refers to Kitab al-Maknun (The Hidden Book). His work Majma`ul Bahrayn (Mingling of the Two Oceans i.e. Hinduism and Islam) is very seminal work in the history of composite culture of India.
Dara Shikoh who was the disciple of the disciple of Mian Mir, the great Sufi saint who had laid the foundation stone of the Har Mandir in Amritsar at the instance of the Sikh Guru shows in this book that there is great deal of similarities between these two great religions Hinduism and Islam. He divides his tract into twenty sections like The Elements, The Senses, The Religious Exercises, The Attributes, the Great Resurrection and so on. In each section he discusses similarities between Hinduism and Islam.
For example, in the first section "Discourse on the Elements" he compares the concept of these elements in Islam and Hinduism. They are five in umber i.e. Arsh-i-Azam (The Great Throne); secondly the wind, thirdly the Fire; Fourthly the water and Fifthly the Dust. In the Indian language these are called Panch Bhut namely akas, vayu, tejas, jala and prithvi. He then discusses these elements and their similarities in both the traditions. Dara Shikoh for example compares Ruhi-i-Azam with Jivatma.
Then coming to Sifat-I-Allah Ta`ala i.e. Divine Attributes he says in Islamic Sufi tradition there are two Beauty (Jamal) and Majesty (Jamal) while in Indian tradition it is three called Triguna called Sattva, Rajas and tamas which mean Creation,
Duration and Destruction. Then he goes on to compare Brahma, Vishnu and Mahishvara with Jibrail, Mika'il and Israfil. He says that Brahma or Jibra'il is the (Superintending angel) of Creation; Vishnu or Mika'il is the angel of Duration (or Existence) and Mahishwara or Israfil is the angel of Destruction. Dara Shikoh further says that water, wind and fire are also allied with these angels. Thus water goes with Jibra'il, fire with Mika'il and air with Israfil. Similarly Brahma is water, Vishnu is fire and Maheshwara is air.
In all these 20 sections in Majma`ul Bahrayn Dara Shikoh finds similarities between both Hindu and Islamic (particularly Sufi) traditions. The fanatics and fundamentalists in both the traditions denounce each other and try to prove the truth of their own religion. In such circumstances it is highly necessary to popularise writings of persons like Dara Shikoh who uphold the truth of all religious traditions. The Sufi Islam has been a bridge between Hindus and Muslims in India. The very fundamental doctrine of Sufism has been sulh-i-kula i.e. peace with all.
The Sufis go with essence, not with phraseology or terminology. The Sufis studied the local traditions and adopted many of them. Even in the Qur'an one finds remarkable similarities between some of the Hindu traditions and Islamic tradition. For example in Indian tradition we find Stayam, Shivam and Sundaram for God. One finds in the Qur'an Huwa'l Haq (He is Truth ), Jamil (Sundaram) and Jabbar (Shivam). All three Attributes are there in the Qur'an.
Also, the often quoted saying that Vasudhaiv Kutumbakum (entire universe is a family) finds its reflection in the Holy Prophet's saying Al-khalqu `Ayalullah i.e. entire creation is Allah's family. These are remarkable similarities between these two traditions. It is on these similarities that the Sufis and others built the bridges between the two communities. However, it is some political interests, which selectively and superficially use some traditions to divide Hindus and Muslims. Thus one can easily say that while religions unite the politics divide.
Among the `Ulama persons like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad came out with the doctrine of unity of religion (wahdat-i-din) which is also very constructive approach. There have been many Sufi saints in India like Mazhar Jan-i-Janan who accept Ram and Krishna as the Prophets of God as Allah has stated in the Qur'an that He has sent prophets to all nations. Thus we must promote similarities between Hindus and Muslims and there are abundant examples of these similarities in our scriptures.
Date: Fri, 09 Aug 2002 12:36:09
From: Shweta Austin
Subject: Islamic Saint Saw Upanishads as Secret Book of Quran
By Shweta Austin
Prince Muhammad Dara Shikoh (1627-1658 AD) "...there is his Persian version of the Upanishads and Bhagvad Gita.
While many are familiar with Dara Shikoh's translation of the Upanishads, few know that in the preface to the translation, he speculates that the Upanishads may well have been the secret book mentioned in the Quran. It was for this reason that he called the Upanishads, The Great Secret." Prince Muhammad Dara Shikoh (1627-1658 AD) the favorite Sufi son of Moghul emperor, Shah Jehan. Known the world over for his unorthodox and liberal views. He was a mystic and a free thinker. Dara Shikoh, wrote in his Persian translation of the Upanishads. "After gradual research; I have come to the conclusion that long before all heavenly books, God had revealed to the Hindus, through the Rishis of yore, of whom Brahma was the Chief, His four books of knowledge, the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda."
He had learned Sanskrit and studied the Hindu scriptures in the original. He translated the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga - Vashishta into Persian directly from Sanskrit and called it Sirr-e-Akbar (The Great Mystery). Titled "The Upanishads: God's Most Perfect Revelation" and then into Latin by Anquetil Duperron (1801 and 1802) under the title Oupnekhat, contained about fifty.
The Quran itself, he said, made veiled references to the Upanishads as the "first heavenly book and the fountainhead of the ocean of monotheism." In his Majma al-Bahrain, he sought to reconcile the Sufi theory with the Vedanta. He was able to affirm that Sufism and Advaita Vedantism (Hinduism) are essentially the same, with a surface difference of terminology.”
And in introduction to this work he says that one finds in Upanishads the concept of tawhid (the doctrine of Unity of God, the most fundamental doctrine of Islam) after the Qur'an and perhaps the Qur'an refers to Upanishad when it refers to Kitab al-Maknun (The Hidden Book). His work Majma`ul Bahrayn (Mingling of the Two Oceans i.e. Hinduism and Islam) is very seminal work in the history of composite culture of India. Two years after the completion of the Sirr-i-Akbar, Dara was executed on the orders of his brother - Aurangazeb.
It's a strange feeling to feel lost in your own city. It happened after spending hours trying to locate what was once considered the pantheon of all knowledge and the glory of Shahjahanabad, the library of Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan's eldest son. After hovering near the Kashmiri Gate area in the scorching heat for hours my efforts finally paid off as I entered the huge colonial bunglow which is now the office of the Archeological Department of the Delhi government.
With little idea of what the century-old library would look like, I was nevertheless somewhat taken aback to find the entire complex surrounded by jamun trees, huge white pillars, speaking of British architecture, and wooden blinds covering the verandahs. The only remnant of Mughal architecture could be seen in the basement. Dara, a professed Muslim, was known the world over for his unorthodox and liberal views and was deeply imbued with the heretical mysticism of the Sufis. He mixed freely with philosophers and scholars of other religions. In fact, due to his relations with priests like Father Buseo, there were even rumours at one time about his embracing Christianity. During the autumn of 1657, after endless intrigues, when Aurangzeb finally ascended the throne, Dara fled westward.
The Rajputs were the main supporters of Dara Shikoh and if Jaswant Singh of Marwar had not behaved treacherously, he might have won. Later, he was betrayed by his Afghan host, Malik Jeewan, a person whose life he had once saved from the wrath of Shah Jahan. The court theologians readily humoured Aurangzeb's penchant for legal proceedings and passed the death sentence against Dara Shikoh. Dara was beheaded and his corpse paraded through the city and buried without ceremony in a vault near Humayun's Tomb.
The death of Dara also meant the destruction of his library. Dara's estate, comprising the palace, library and garden were given to the subedar of Lahore, Ali Mardan Khan, and later taken over by Wazir Safdarjung, before being captured by the British. According to the records at the Archeological Department the building changed hands at least seven times, each time being modified by its owners.
The first to do so was the Viceroy of Punjab, Ali Mardan Khan Mohammad, around 1639. Then came Sir David Ochterlony Bart around 1803, after which it was taken over by the government college between 1804 to 1877 and later by the the District College in 1877 to 1886 until the Municipal Board School took it till 1904. It finally came to the Delhi College of Engineering till recently when it came under the Delhi government.
This perhaps explains why nothing typically Mughal in style or architecture is visible here, asserts Nita Bali, the secretary of Art and Culture, Delhi government. The guiding force behind the renovation of the Ghalib Manzil, Nita observes, "It has not been easy for us to restore the 'original' touch to the library since no original plan has been recovered. On our part, we have tried to preserve whatever traces of Mughal architecture that still existed."
Referring to the inaction of the government in preserving the monument till now, Bali's opinion is to let the past rest and concentrate on doing some good work in the present. She has come up with a Citizen's Charter aiming at the digitisation and upgradation of the archaeological museum set up on the premises, besides an advisory committe chaired by her which will be responsible for ensuring conservation.
At present, the departmant is also planning to extend its conseration activities to the Mutiny Memorial near GTK Depot, Baradari at Sadhana Enclave, Zail at Bawana and Lodi period tomb at Katwaria Sarai, all within a budget of Rs 50 lakh. However, Bali maintains that "till the Delhi Ancient and Historical Monuments and Sites and Remains Bill awaits the assent of the President of India, we are not equipped to effectively preserve monuments of local importance."
Also commendable is the fact that the basement of the monument (Dara's library), known to be the only original portion of the library which still exists, has been preserved. Dr B S R Babu the deputy director of the archaeology department who showed me around the basement with its typically Mughal pillars, cleaned and carved out after the debris from the structure was cleared, says the conservation work was started in February in phases. The first phase is complete and a feast awaits lovers of history. The first task it faced was having to tear down the encroachments that had come up in all these years before beginning renovaitons in keeping with whatever records and references they could lay their hands on.
However, it remains to be seen how the department approaches the issue of Dara's original manuscripts which have been missing since the time of his death. For instance, there is his Persian version of the Upanishads and Bhagvad Gita. While many are familiar with Dara Shikoh's translation of the Upanishads, few know that in the preface to the translation, he speculates that the Upanishads may well have been the secret book mentioned in the Quran. It was for this reason that he called the Upanishads, The Great Secret. Among his literary works is his book Majmua-ul-Baharain which aims at bringing Islam and Hinduism closer. While it is said that Dara's passion for books saw him spend most of his time in the library, which was close to his living apartments and contained a valuable collection of works brought from Turkey, Persia, Greece, Egypt and various parts of India, apart from his own scholarly works. Sadly enough, the library stands empty today.
Interestingly, some see it as part of Aurangzeb's plan to blot out every memory of Dara, his 'infidel' brother whose work he considered heretical. Others say these works found their way to auction houses and private collectors of England. Dr Babu says the works may be in Lahore, the Royal Asiatic Society Bengal, Asfiya Library in Hydrabad and the Punjab University according to references. "We will try to locate these," he says. As to how he plans to do this, it's anybody's guess!